Human Resources

Planning for children’s summer activities

You can never begin your planning too early for summer camps, classes and other child care options — many programs begin accepting applications for summer enrollment as early as February. The resources below are an excellent launching point for helping your family get started.

Options available through the UW

The UW Office for Youth Program Development and Support offers an expansive directory of UW camps, online classes, and activities for children from preschool through high school. From STEM, to art classes, to exploring the outdoors and everything in between, find a variety of interesting options for summer, including free activities!

Through Bright Horizons, benefits-eligible employees and UW students receive discounted tuition at Right at School’s summer camps, and discounts for Steve and Kate’s Summer Day Camps.

UW CareLink is a free resource available to all benefits-eligible UW employees that can help in the search for summer options for younger children. CareLink’s child care specialists will consult with you, and will provide you with a list of options based on your preferences.

Online resources

Find classes and camps by date, subject, grade level, and format using Elevate Washington, a state-wide directory of camps, after-school classes, services and supports that help build lifelong skills, improve academic performance, provide safe spaces outside the school day and inspire young people to discover their passions. ParentMap magazine includes summers programs to help Puget Sound parents and families.

Free or subsidized summer programs

The best way to find out about these options is to simply ask: many programs offer financial aid, sliding fee scales, or payment plans for parents. For example, UW Youth and Teen Programs has a first come, first served financial aid program available for eligible families. The online directories listed above also include some free options for summer activities.

Local community organizations, such as library systems and Parks and Recreation departments, are a great resource for free youth programs year-round and during the summer.

Helpful tips

  • Start your planning and enrollment early! In-demand activities and popular subjects like STEM classes for teens fill up quickly.
  • Most programs maintain wait lists. Some families will inevitably make cancellations; signing up for a spot on a waitlist can be an effective way to get your child into their activity of choice.
  • Don’t forget to involve your child in decision making. Try to gauge what your child might be growing into interest-wise, and what they may be growing out of. You might be surprised to learn how insightful children of all ages can be when it comes to these topics.